A physics education Web site launched by Nobel laureate Carl Wieman, distinguished professor of physics at the University of Colorado at Boulder, has won two international awards as an exemplary online resource.
The Physics Education Technology Project, or PhET, was honored by the Physics Editorial Board of MERLOT, an online collection of teaching and learning resources in disciplines including education, the arts, business and science. PhET received the 2006 MERLOT Classics Award as the most outstanding online resource in the field of physics and also won its highest honor, the Editor's Choice Award, as an exemplary model for all 17 disciplines.
MERLOT stands for the Multimedia Educational Resource for Learning and Online Teaching and is an online catalog of peer-reviewed learning materials offered for free by international members seeking to improve higher education.
The award includes $500 and $1,000 for travel to the MERLOT International Conference in Quebec, Canada, in August to present the PhET site to the attendees at a plenary lecture. The editorial boards making the awards consisted of faculty from colleges and universities.
Wieman launched PhET in 2002 with $250,000 of the money he received for winning the 2001 Nobel Prize in physics. The project has been supported by the Hewlett Foundation, the National Science Foundation, CU-Boulder and the Kavli Foundation.
PhET consists of interactive "virtual" physics experiments that can be used to demonstrate such things as what is happening as electricity flows through wires and light bulbs, how the greenhouse effect in the atmosphere warms the Earth and what happens in a microwave oven.
PhET simulations are used extensively in high schools and colleges in Colorado and throughout the world, Wieman said. The free, online experiments are aimed at high school students, college undergraduates and the general public.
"What I hope is that it will make physics -- and ultimately other sciences -- vastly more accessible and interesting to people of widely different backgrounds," Wieman said in 2002.
Members of the CU-Boulder team producing PhET include Kathy Perkins, Ron Lemaster, Sam Reid, Wendy Adams, Noah Finkelstein, Mike Dubson, Chris Malley, Sarah McKagan, Linda Koch, Daniele Steele and Linda Wellman. They include physics faculty members, postdoctoral researchers, graduate students and PhET employees.
For more information on MERLOT visit www.merlot.org/Home.po. To access PhET go to www.colorado.edu/physics/phet/web-pages/index.html.